There’s an epidemic affecting women today. While diabetes, obesity and cancers are scourges; I’m referring to anxiety. According to the Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, anxiety affects 1 in 10 people. And women are 1.5 times more likely to meet the criteria for a mood or anxiety disorder (although this may just indicate that men are less likely to seek help for emotional problems). Women in their middle years with the accompanying demands of career, caring for both children and older parents, as well as the 24/7 operations of our digital age, are questionably the most vulnerable. Even if you’re not clinically anxious, these simple steps will show you how to minimize anxiety in a stressful age.
Make your mental health a priority
Being conscious of the stress you’re under and taking steps to minimize its effect on you can be the best thing you do for yourself and the people around you. I was in denial of the effect anxiety was having on my life until my dentist advised my tongue was engraved from teeth marks caused by nightly grinding and clenching.
Try to identify your stress triggers and see what part of them is under your control. For example, if it’s your in-laws, and you can’t decrease the frequency of visits, at least minimize the duration of your time together.
Also be conscious of the things you’re telling yourself. Often we have a doom-and-gloom voice inside our heads. And we’re not even aware that we’re creating it. Paying attention to thoughts is a cornerstone of cognitive therapy, but even if you don’t pursue counseling, this practice should help improve your mood.
Consider learning about the Sedona Method, a simple tool that teaches how to let go of feelings that don’t serve us.
Take a breath
Breath work can help calm us naturally. Integrative medicine pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil espouses the 4-7-8 relaxing breath exercise in which you breathe in to a count of four, hold for a count of seven and then exhale to a count of eight.
Move for your mood
Increasing evidence indicates moderate exercise can benefit people suffering from anxiety disorders. In a study reported in Psychology Today, reductions in anxiety were often found within 10 minutes of completing exercise.
Food for thoughts
While dieters are often drawn to low-carb diets, complex carbohydrates seem to help increase serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect.
Coffee is an a.m. lifeline for many of us, but if you become jittery during the day, replace your afternoon java jolt with herbal tea.
Omega-3 has been shown to benefit sufferers of both anxiety and depression. Consider eating salmon a couple of times a week or ask your physician about taking an Omega-3 fish oil supplement.
Finally, remember there’s no shame in seeking help if you feel overwhelmed with negative feelings.